The first hernia mesh bellwether trial is expected to go before a jury in May 2020 and by that time, it is expected that C.R. Bard will face more than 6,000 lawsuits over complications from polypropylene mesh devices implanted during hernia repair procedures. Since the first mesh device was introduced in the 1950s, mesh has become the standard treatment for hernia repair surgery. In fact, hernia mesh is used in hundreds of thousands of hernia repair procedures in the United States every year, but there are rising concerns about the safety of mesh in light of the potential for organ perforation, bowel obstruction and other serious and potentially life-threatening complications to occur following surgery. Any hernia repair surgery carries a potential risk of complications, but some of the most common and serious injuries have resulted from hernia mesh devices that have been recalled due to a higher than expected rate of failure.
Hernia mesh is a term used to describe a flat sheet of prosthetic material that is surgically implanted for the purpose of stabilizing abdominal tissue after a hernia, a condition that occurs because of a defect or split in the fibers of the abdominal muscles. A hernia often requires surgical repair to close the split and reposition any tissue or organs that are protruding from the abdomen, and while hernia repair can sometimes be completed with simple sutures, roughly 90% of hernia repair procedures are performed using hernia mesh. There are certain advantages to repairing a hernia with mesh, but there are also a number of potential health risks, some of which may be fatal. In many cases, patients who develop post-surgical complications after receiving a hernia mesh implant will require revision surgery to remove or replace the mesh and repair any additional damage, which only increases the risk of complications and prolongs the recovery time. In response to a series of hernia mesh recalls and increasing reports of hernia mesh complications, a growing number of lawsuits are being filed against the makers of dozens of hernia mesh devices.
According to court records, there are already more than 4,500 hernia mesh lawsuits pending in the federal court system against C.R. Bard, all of which involve similar allegations that Bard’s Ventralex, Composix and Perfix devices and other similar hernia mesh products contain design defects that caused plaintiffs to suffer painful and debilitating complications. Among the side effects potentially linked to Bard hernia mesh products are:
In addition to claims against C.R. Bard, other hernia mesh manufacturers are facing product liability lawsuits over similar mesh complications, including the makers of Atrium C-Qur mesh and Ethicon Physiomesh, which have been linked to design defects that resulted in an unexpectedly high failure rate.
Given the common questions of fact and law raised in the ongoing hernia mesh litigation, the lawsuits pending in federal court were centralized before U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus in the Southern District of Ohio, for coordinated pretrial proceedings as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL). As part of that MDL, a series of test cases, known as bellwether trials, are scheduled to begin in May, July and September 2020. The purpose of these early bellwether trials is to help the parties involved in the lawsuits determine how juries are likely to respond to certain testimony and evidence that will be repeated throughout the litigation. Although the outcome of the bellwether trials is not binding on the rest of the lawsuits, if the early cases are decided in favor of the plaintiffs, it could persuade Bard to agree to a hernia mesh settlement.
Hernia mesh is one of those medical devices that recipients know very little about. Few patients who undergo a hernia mesh procedure know exactly what type of product was used during the procedure, which is one of the main reasons the hernia mesh litigation is expected to continue to grow. As hernia mesh recipients experiencing painful and debilitating problems come to realize that their injuries may be the result of a defective mesh product, hernia mesh injury lawyers continue to investigate and pursue legal claims on behalf of these individuals. According to a pretrial order issued on November 21, between 250 and 400 new Bard hernia mesh claims are being filed each month. And during a recent status conference, the Plaintiffs Steering Committee estimated that Bard will face around 6,000 total hernia mesh claims by the time the first bellwether trial goes to court.